Air transport

Posted on:Dec 14,2017

I. Introduction

Aviation is the most dynamic enveloping sector of transportation. It is caused basically by it major characteristics such as fast possibility of reaching two random points between take off and final destination, and also by the global reach1. According to the forecast made by the Airbus, which is currently one of the biggest aviation company, the increase in air flow between year 2013-2030 may reach the growth up to 4-6% annually (depends on the region on the Earth). What is more Airbus expects, that between year 2012 and 2027 the general air flow of the aircrafts is going to be at least doubled. This situation will conduct the need of making some huge and important investments in air transport sector. Unfortunately, doing and providing the service for the air transport means huge money investments, because of the need of providing and building e.g. the whole infrastructure needed to do service at the airports. Having a business in aviation sector may be tricky. However, the need of the development of air transport is required, because the main characteristics of this industry helps to meet the needs of current World.

II. Structure of the aviation industry

We may divide aviation onto two sectors- the Civil aviation and State aviation. The Civil aviation basically is the sum of the general aviation and transport aviation. The air transport may concern the transport of passengers or the transport of cargo2. No doubt, the passenger transport is the major, and the biggest part of the whole aviation industry, but for the supply chain, logistics and in processes of transportation of goods, the most important and the key role plays freight transportation, in documents officially called by the cargo transport. This mean of freight transportation is used day by day more and more often. Currently even up to 40% of goods in their value between the regions in Europe is transported by air3,4. According to the International Air Transport Association, shortly called IATA, and publicized at their official website information, each day goods valued by more than 16 billion USD are transported by air. It is 1/3 of total daily all World’s trade by value5

III. Air cargo transportation services

International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the World known organization which represents, direct and provide service for aviation industry6. IATA was created in 1945. Has officially 64 offices in 60 different countries. Main Office is located in Montreal, Canada. IATA integrate more than 230 airlines from 125 countries7. All the companies which are joined in IATA are responsible for 93% of global regular air connections. All members of IATA in 2012 transported together 1,6 milliard passengers in regular connection flights (including 709 million on the international routes). The IATA integrates the airlines which are responsible for the cargo transport as well.

In 2008 many of the major passenger’s airlines counted the decrease in the total number of transported passengers due to the economic crisis. This majorly had an impact on the most developed regions such Europe and the USA. Fortunately, according to that negative results of passenger’s traffic, the air cargo transport was not representing such a huge decrease. This form of air transport was doing well. Many cargo airlines even have decided to enlarge their fleet, what proved that they are developing, and the crisis had not influenced on them. What is more the need to provide air cargo service was increasing.

For the cargo transportation system, logistics as well as the whole supply chain management are necessary. They enable to provide the transport by air, they are responsible for organization and implementation of a complex operations. Thanks to them, the flow of the materials is possible, people may get the goods they want or need, much faster. For the supply chain managers and logisticians, the help of cargo airline is usually essential. To the biggest logistic companies around the World are included among the other companies such as: DHL, Kuehne + Nagel, Schenker. We may call them an air freight forwarders or just by forwarders. As an air freight forwarder, we consider a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from the manufacturer or producer to a market, customer or final point of distribution. The work of forwarders is based on the contract with a carrier or often with the multiple carriers who are responsible for goods’ transport. Thus, a forwarder is not responsible for the movement of the goods but is an expert in the logistics chain. The cargo carriers can use a variety of shipping methods such as ships, airplanes, lorries or rails. Many forwarder’s companies are providing services of sending and receiving goods, which were travelling by the air. What is more, few of them, mainly the most popular, even has own’s cargo airplanes.

IV. Improving the supply chain in aviation

In air transport service there must be fulfilled many requirements. To help somehow organize, unify it, and increase the efficiency of the air transportation there was created a system which is based on Unit Load Devices (ULD). A unit load device may be a pallet or container which is used to load luggage, freight, mail or other type of cargo on the aircrafts. It uses, allows to pack large quantity of cargo into one unit. It also helps to organize the transportation and use the airplane’s cargo department efficiency. Use of Unit Load Devices also influence onto the saving time and effort of ground crews in packing and unpacking the aircrafts. What is more it’s use helps prevent delayed flights. Each ULD must have its own packing list of its contents, which is supposed to be tracked as the freight.

Contemporary transportation aircrafts, depending on the type, usually carry between 40 to 250 tons (Antonov An-225 Mrija) of cargo at once.

The way of packing the freight on the cargo airplanes depends on the aircraft’s type. Usually the goods are transported on:

  • transport’ pallet,trans
  • port’ metal palet,
  • containers,as
  • bulk cargo.

The most challenging and the most important issue for air cargo transportation is the freight’s high:

  • Maximum height on the narrow body airplanes is 80 cm (which fly usually on European routes) what concerns e.g. airplanes such as Boeing 737, or up to 110 cm for the planes such as Airbus A319, A320 or A321.
  • Maximum height on the wide body passenger’s airplanes is 160 cm (which fly usually on transatlantic routes)
  • Maximum height on airplane’s dedicated to cargo purposes is 305 cm (according to the Cargolux official website8).

Equipment for air cargo packing or unpacking plays key role in speeding up the supply chain processes. It is important and useful to use the advanced equipment on the processes of putting the cargo on the planes’ board. The special equipment is also needed to the estimation of the center of gravity of the whole plane after the loading, as well as permissible surface load. In the whole air transport, both passenger’s and cargo, there appear the dynamic processes. They may occur either on the ground or in the air. Both may have huge influence onto the airplane. What is more during the vertical flight there may occur the drags caused by the aerodynamics phenomenas, which result and influence on the outside surface of the plane. Also, there may occur drags caused by improper balance of rotating masses of the loaded packages on board. Often there are also shocks caused by aerodynamic disturbances, which are really important and generates a threat for security of the loaded freight in the cargo compartment. For the freight which was classified as hazardous good there may be some loses which lead to possibility of relocation of the cargo, therefore the logistics’ staff should be aware of the possibility of theirs occurrence.

The freight loaded on the pallets and later on the whole containers may be transported to the airplane’s fuselage by special rolls, located in or built in the floor of the airplane. In loading the whole freight, helpful may be also the special cranes and overhead cranes. Always there are used special suitable and fastening straps which do not let the cargo move while transportation processes. Airplanes dedicated to cargo are equipped in rails and fixing brackets. According to what kind of cargo is transported, there may be used special locking fasteners and all kinds of poses, especially used for locking objects of cylindrical shapes. The purpose of using them is to amortize and take out the kinetic energy through suppression of the resulting vibrations. The cargo’s packages should counterattack of the potential energy created while transport. The sensibility of the mechanic energy may be reduced by special freight loading procedure, as well as by protection by the amortizing and absorbing the kinetic energy from the goods and good’s packages.

The package used for the air transport has to be good quality9,10 and should be designed in the way, which would help to close it in a safe way. Also, the package should prevent of substations leak, according to the plane’s technical instructions. Also, they should meet all IATA’s and ICAO’s requirements. Grouping cargo loads into containers and other packages makes loading easier, but also allows to use the special cargo equipment dedicated to lifting, packing, loading and reloading. It’s use conducts to elimination of the risk of loads moving while air transport service. Also, it has an impact and increase the efficiency of cargo transportation. The aircraft’s production companies while the designing process are obligated to determine the loading methods, types of transported goods and possible use of equipment built-in on the airplanes which are sacrifice for packaging etc. All those data have to be clearly specified in the airplane’s technical instructions. The aim of this requirement is to ensure that the transported cargo will be properly disassembled. However, always it is necessary to balance the airplane after the loading and before the airplane’s take off, because providing safety and security is a goal in aviation industry. Also it helps to improve the efficiency of the whole supply chain management processes.

V. Types of air freighters

Air freight is usually transported on the dedicated to those purposes compartments, but how that compartment looks like, depends on the air carrier kind. Every airplane’s company has different air freighters, which may load different amount of the air cargo. The types of air cargo transportation method are various and may be conducted by:

  • Passenger’ plane, in the part dedicated for cargo transportation. It concerns smaller packages as well as that, packed in the ULD,
  • Cargo plane, where whole fuselage basically is dedicated for transportation of the cargo freight.

In air cargo industry the phenomena are the biggest air carriers such as Airbus A380. That cargo airplane was built basically just for the transportation of the parts of the smaller aircrafts built by the Airbus company (primary the most popular Airbus A320). Although that plane may be rent to meet the requirements and to transport the enormous size of cargo.

In the cargo transportation service there must be provided specified documents. To the transportation’s documentation we count all those, which are required for national and international transport, and all those forms, agreements which are necessary to be prepared by transportation forwarder and carriers before, during and after transporting processes. The basic document for air transport is Air Way Bill – AWB. The obligation of preparing the AWB exist since the Warsaw Convention, which was signed in 1929. This document shows the relation between export and import goods movement. It is prepared by the logistician agent or cargo forwarder in the name of the transportation company and it confirms and shows the exact person whom should be the certain cargo package delivered to. On Air Way Bill should be written the information such as place of it starting point and destination point, as well as the all information about the package. It should be prepared in three copies (for the consignor, carrier and consignee). AWB is always prepared in English.

For the valuable cargo packages there are done documents (both are supplementary to the AWB), which are called as:

  • MAWB – Master Air Way Bill,
  • HAWB- House Air Way Bill.

MAWB is a document prepared and used by the forwarder to make sure that the cargo freight is consolidated. On this one there is clearly defined what is the value of the cargo package, who is sending it and the name of the agent at the destination airport. MAWB is a major document send between the forwarders.

HAWB is letter of the transportation prepared for the exact cargo package, which is made from the few MAWB. HAWB is the major document send between the cargo handling agents.

To reduce and speed up the process of sending all cargo transportation documents, the International Air Transport Association had developed the project of E-Freight system. It is based on decreasing the amount of paper documents as well as for higher efficiency, and reduction in weight of the whole transported cargo (because all documents used to fly with the cargo freight). The implementation of E-freight platform helps save even up to 4.9 mld USD annually. Just the common use of e-AWB, which is one out of the 30 different documents required for the air transport made that the need of printing, collecting and archiving all of them was decreased. It leaded as well to many money savings, and also increased the time of providing service and other important and required processes, helped increase the efficiency, as well as gave a possibility to track the cargo package online. The implementation of e-AWB helps to save 7 800 tons of printed paper documents annually.

VI. Air fright pricing

The price of the transportation of the freight by air depends on the calculations of the air forwarders. The price of the goods transportation by air is, no doubt, the most expensive if we compare it to the other methods of the transportations such as railways, road or sea. It is the main reason why the logistician prefers to send the freight by the other kind of transportation instead by the air. Although it is the most expensive, it is the fastest one. The global access of the planes does not make any difficulties to send a package to the other side of the World within one day. The sea transport would take (in good conditions) probably one month. Rails and roads cannot reach always two random spots on the Earth, so in this way we would have to use intermodal transportation system. With the air transport it is the same, but, usually, from and to the airports we use road transport, but the distance of the road transportation part in this connection is not so huge. The airplanes are flying more directly, so it’s use is eco-friendlier than the road transportation (the CO2 emissions and emissions of other pollution are lower). Unfortunately, the planes capacity is limited (usually are much smaller than cargo departments of ships or trains), so it explains why we usually must pay much more for sending something by air, than for example by road.

VII. Air cargo security

There is many threats and huge risk connected with the air cargo security and aviation security, in general, while transporting goods by the air. Thus, we should be aware and may expect the occurrence in the supply chain of many threats. Among the others, it may be:

  • The placing the explosive or incendiary devices inside air cargo prior being placed on the airplane. To avoid such dangerous situations the air cargo transportation system has to follow Dangerous Goods Regulations created and published by IATA. Although, all packages must be checked by the handling operators and agents as well.
  • The undeclared or undetected transport of hazardous material on board of the airplane.
  • The possibility of smuggling contraband goods inside air cargo. To avoid it, there are special Heimann’s X-ray machines which helps the handling agents as well as to national’s service to avoid such risks.
  • Theft from air cargo by the airport’s and airline’s workers.
  • Hijacking of the airplane or conduction of the sabotage by people with access to the aircraft or occurrence of other unlawful acts against the aviation industry.

To avoid such treats there are implemented many solutions, which are aimed to the reduction of the potential risks. The examples of those solutions are:

  • Implementation or improvement of cargo’s screening inspections.
  • Improvements in the physical security of air cargo facilities.
  • Improvement of staff security and handling’s agents’ trainings.
  • Restricted access to the aircraft which is transporting the cargo and as well as to the air cargo facilities.
  • Use of the new technologies to protect the air cargo security system and as well as the screening systems.

VIII. Summary

The transport of cargo by air, nowadays, is important and plays a key role for the efficient supply chains processes. It’s use helps to reduce time of the transportation, and cause that the effect of globalization is wider and faster. The proper transportation of air cargo maybe tricky thought, because in air transportation there are many threats. Thus, it may be not safe for the aviation business and may generate the risks for the safety and security of air transport. To avoid and reduce the possibility of occurrence of any threats or risks there are required and should be fulfilled many restrictions. What is more, for the transport of goods by air there should be prepared certain documentation, many people should take care of conduction of cargo transportation with the safety and security requirements. To increase the efficiency of processes included to the whole supply chain there is a need of using the special equipment, dedicated to loading and reloading airplanes for the cargo purposes, as well as there should be prepared certain, according to the global standards, documentation. Air Way Bill is the most important document which has to be prepared before the transport of goods as air freight. The system of packing the cargo freight plays a key role as well, because it influences onto the efficiency and economy of the air transport. The package which was not prepared well, may conduct for example to the unexpected and unwanted drags, what while the transportation process may have a negative impact and influence on safety and security aspects. What is more, it may change the flight’s parameters and be dangerous for the whole aircraft, and for the people, who are on the airplane’s board. Fortunately, the development of the technology and adjustment of the logistics companies to the customer’s requirements helps, and we have the access and may use the cargo transport services such as “just in time” or “door-to-door” every day.

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